Tag Archives: Saskatchewan

A Synopsis of False Expectations


Introduction & Chapter 1: The Saskatchewan Myth

Dale Eisler discusses private and public choice in political economy and aims to demonstrate that Saskatchewan’s self-image diverges from other provinces perception of the province. First, Saskatchewan was created for the consumption of the Commonwealth. Second, Saskatchewan’s self-image struggles with the duality of external and internal images as reality never meets expectations in politics or economy. The Saskatchewan Myth is a politically re-enforced faith that is embedded in the identity of the polity; it the dreamy aspirations for future prosperity and a psychic strength that continues to bring hope as rural fortunes prove dubious. The myth calls for overly optimistic economic forecasts, willful exaggeration and unrealistic ignorance of geographic and revenue realities. For immigrants, it represented hopes and dreams in the New World and built-up a romance of Saskatchewan as a special place with special people. The myth is real in the minds of the citizens where we believe the bonds of community are stronger than anyother polity in Confederation. Are Saskatchewan citizens narrow-minded and too preoccupied with getting through the day to realize the false visions of grandure at the root of our provincial identity? Why is Saskatchewan literature focused on the “imagined communities’? Why is the province the second largest exporter of human resource in Canada? The truth is that Saskatchewan was the promise-land that never was realized. Historically, the province played a significant role in the economic non-partisan project under Laurier. The myth was manufactured before conception in Britain to expand the Canadian West. There was fear of American expansionism and in response to the Crow Law (1846) Canada was left with the drive for national policy. During the National Policy era and beyond, wheat was an undisputed lynchpin to the Canadian economy. However, we are under valued in confederacy then and currently. Eisler will show through political history and economic study that the 2nd century was less promising then the first…

Allan Blakeney: The Aftermath

….Aftermath

The Tories kept their promises which were reckless. The deficit was 230 million in 1982 and 379 million in 1984. Devine cut spending on affirmative action programs, closed the Land Bank program, the Department of Northern Saskatchewan was disband, labour legislation was rewritten to favour employers. Devine sold the Department of Highway’s construction equipment to private firms. North Battleford gained a bacon processing and curing plant. Blakeney was opposition leader but his colleagues were not all former cabinet ministers and had grudges against him. In the 1986 election, Devine claimed that Blakeney had added wrinkles but no new ideas and that Devine was the heir to the Tommy Douglas vision (after Douglas had passed away in February of 1986). The final result vote count was very close with the NDP gaining the popular vote. Devine’s second term was massively destructive to the Saskatchewan treasury, as well as the conservative movement in Saskatchewan. Blakeney remained active during the 1990s. In 1992, he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada. In 2000, he was awarded the Saskatchewan Order of Merit. In 2001, he was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. Blakeney was also a past president of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association. Allan Blakeney passed away on April 16th, 2011

Based on: Promises to Keep

Allan Blakeney & The New Politics

The New Politics

Blakeney was a maverick, The Arab of Potash and indefatigable. Blakeney didn’t believe in Made-in-Canada (Ottawa) oil prices. The Tories were emerging once again with business donations. Blakeney was on vacation in 1978 when Trudeau declared he would wait until 1979 for an election. The polls were Tory Blue. Blakeney had to go in 1978 for fear of a tidal was of blue support. The Liberals had collapsed in 1975. Collver had leadership issues. He had a Swiss bank account. Knight learned negative campaigning for the US. It was an all out negative campaign calling Collver the “Nixon of the Prairies”. The Toronto Star called Blakeney Canada’s best premier. Blakeney ran against Trudeau on resource and Collver on trust. The NDP won 48 percent of the vote in 1978. In an incident in Regina, a very bitter Collver congratulated Wes Robbins on winning the campaign. On the steps of the legislature, Collver insulted Robbins’ mother and Robbins – a mild-mannered man – delivered a haymaker, sending the Tory leader tumbling down the steps. Collver resigned as leader of the Tories and stood as an independent advocating Canadian annexation into the US. He then moved to Arizona. The NDP did extensive polling during the election. The NDP farm vote was seriously dying by this point. The Crow Rate was a major policy issue he would forward later.

Based on: Promises to Keep

Allan Blakeney Uranium in Saskatchewan

Uranium in Saskatchewan

The CCF had a longstanding social cleavage of supporters against nuclear-proliferation. Uranium was discovered in Saskatchewan’s north in 1935. Uranium went bust once the US stockpile was exceeding in 1959. It was largely military demand but Blakeney didn’t see Saskatchewan as participating in nuclear war; rather he believed international law was the problem not mining for uranium. A uranium refinery was built in the 1970s near Warman. Peter Prebble was an anti-nuclear participating at the UN summit on the aggressive expansion of nuclear power technology. Blakeney shuffled cabinet when there was disagreement there was questions over the environmental impact of Amok’s Cluff Lake project. Blakeney avoided a moratorium on the issue but promised an inquiry. There was a leak at Cluff Lake. The CCF was created to create institutional protection for farmers against the 19th century capitalism of banks railroads and grain merchants. Blakeney was never compelled by this philosophy. Blakeney and the middle generation were keen while the Prebble generation was staunch environmentalists. While an inquiry net on the pieces fell to place. Blakeney promise 3 billion in revenue and royalties. In 1978 uranium was not an election issue and Blakeney won a majority. Church religious groups opposed nuclear refineries in Warman. Blakeney asked how it was moral to deprive the world of new energy when it was in short supply. The uranium debate was an annual ritual at the NDP conventions throughout this period. Prebble was anti-nuclear and angered Blakeney at the NDP federal convention where the pro-nuclear faction was crushed in policy discussions.

Based on: Promises to Keep

Allan Blakeney Potash in Saskatchewan

Potash in Saskatchewan

In the early 70s, the NDP engaged in prorationing Potash setting its price artificially high. Prorationing meant that they had limited quotas which were far below demand in order to ‘preserve the resource’. The Central Canada Potash Company was owned by a Canadian and Chicago company 50/50. Blakeney wanted a cafeteria of options when delving with the Potash issue: a) partial public ownership with private investors or….John Turner in 1974 ended the provincial royalties for all resources as tax deductions. The feds wanted more revenue from resources. Blakeney went to court over the tax change. In the election in June 1975, Blakeney called for a New Deal for People with sped up participation in resource industries. The NDP were re-elected with a reduced majority. During the fall of 1975, Blakeney began the secret construction of an operations room in the basement of the legislature. It would serve as the brain-centre for the new secret PCS. Blakeney lost his court case against the Federal government. The 11 potash companies refused to pay royalties and sought legal declarations against the unconstitutional provincial reserve tax. Blakeney was under attack from the Federal government and the potash companies: if it was publicly owned then those attacks could be repulsed. Cadbury went to London to study how a takeover would affect markets. Romanow drafted the legislation careful to avoid offending the BNA Act and the US law. Caucus debated the issue for 4 months. The NDP had developed distrust for the media and circled the wagons after Blakeney’s throne speech. Blakeney made strategic phone calls before the throne speech to let Alberta premier Lougheed and Otto Land know the situation. The Star Phoenix said the creation of a new crown was a sign of the ‘sad stat of affairs’. Unions were unenthusiastic about rallying behind the premier on Potash. Liberals ran a filibuster in 1976 to prevent the legislation from passing. Caucus meetings detailed regular reports on Potash. The US was prepared to retaliate against nationalization: they had done so in Chile. Blakeney went to New York to deal with disgruntled financiers. He assuaged them. PCS purchased mine after mine. The US companies were being paid fairly for their potash investments. Alberta and Saskatchewan wanted to strengthen their influence in confederation with the constitutional repatriation. Resource wealth was a major concern for Blakeney. Potash was the economic equivalent of healthcare. Healthcare was to the 60s, as Potash was to the 70s for the NDP.

Based on: Promises to Keep

Allan Blakeney & The Premier Politician

Premier Politician

Blakeney is a shy man. He doesn’t like campaigning. He is far more engaged with administration and policy. He is not interested in organizing a candidate slate or campaign strategy. He was very precise with people. He did not appreciate sycophantic staff. He listened to what people were saying not what they were conveying: he dissected conversations. Blakeney had trouble remembering faces. Blakeney used to talk to himself publicly. Blakeney did not appreciate the anti-native sentiment growing in rural and urban Saskatchewan. Blakeney knew that he needed to expand the NDP tent in Saskatchewan. He delegated internal party organizing and campaign planning to others. Blakeney controlled the NDP conventions agenda tightly and manipulated panels and plenary session to come up with their policy ideas. The Waffle was being pushed out of the party in the early 1970s. The Federal NDP had removed Jim Laxer from wining the nomination. Blakeney never pushed them out but they were diminished until they no longer existed. Blakeney was a great administrator but not a great politician. He could move from issue to issue easily but never convey the message that effectively. He was not a populist leader and many unfairly compared him to Douglas.

Based on: Promises to Keep

Allan Blakeney on the New Deal ’71

New Deal ‘71

Ross Thatcher called an election for June 23rd, 1971. Thatcher was a grandiose, bombastic public speaker fighting against “little Allan in wonderland”. Blakeney was not TV friendly so the NDP played up the team strategy. Allan conferred with teachers, trade unionists and native leaders who were alienated by Thatcher. The New Deal for People was 21 pages dealing with Agriculture, Values of Rural Life, Labour, Taxation, Resource etc & attacks on Liberal mismanagement and sell outs. There were over 100 promises in it. There were not costs or figures. As expected, Thatcher attacked it which Blakeney claims would move the NDP forward. Thatcher painted the campaign as another round in the battle between free enterprise versus socialism. It was a one man show with banners reading “Saskatchewan is Proud of Ross Thatcher.” His healthy was already weakening. Blakeney charges that Saskatchewan’s population had dropped since 1964 by 17,000 people. The NDP did not use poling but canvassers placing voters in the supporter, undecided and hostile categories. Blakeney tied Thatcher with the federal liberals famously stating “A Liberal is a Liberal is a Liberal.” Allan promised low interest loans to young farmers. The NDP attacked on selling out Saskatchewan resources to Americans on potash. On June 23rd, 1971, the NDP won 45 of 60 seats and grabbed 55 percent of the popular vote.

Based on: Promises to Keep

Allan Blakeney: Promises to Keep


Promises to Keep: A Political Biography of Allan Blakeney

INTRODUCTION:

Blakeney had the rank ordered license plates of Thatcher’s Liberal Cabinet removed in 1971 because he loved and respected the egalitarian streak of the Saskatchewan people. He believed that politics was an honourable profession. Blakeney was never considered good at the 30 second clip. He operated like a professor. He loved to talk about ideas. Blakeney played poker with the same group of 20 friends for 30 years. His poker face was as exceptional as his powers of recall. Blakeney gained a national reputation as a pan-Canadian statesman; concerned for Quebec and demanding the West and East get a new deal. He led Saskatchewan from 1971-1983.